City Urging Communities To Help With Caring For Homeless | News
St. Louis City is calling on the region to help shoulder the job of caring for those who are homeless. If services are not available in outlying counties and towns, residents often seek help in St. Louis City. Homeless experts say some people are even abandoned downtown and left to care for themselves.
That puts a burden on shelters, social service programs and public health inside the city limits.
St. Louis City Human Services Director Bill Seidhoff says he has heard "horror" stories about homeless people who have been dropped off in the city from other counties. He said services for the homeless are very limited in the Metro East and Missouri counties like Lincoln, Warren, Franklin and St. Charles.
A St. Charles County spokesman said the county's sheriff's department would never transport a homeless person and dump them off in downtown St. Louis. "We have a $3 fee on each recorded deed that goes to a fund administered by the St. Charles Community Assistance Board," said John Sonderegger. The fund is currently collecting about $250,000 a year. Not for profits apply for grants to help families in need.
In contrast, St. Louis city spends $14 million in federal grant funding and $4 million from a local use tax each year to provide services to the homeless like supportive housing for the mentally ill homeless or those with drug problems.
On any given day, the city has some 1,300 homeless persons, of which 15-20% are considered chronically homeless because of mental illness or substance abuse. Many of them never had a permanent St. Louis City address.
In 2005, St. Louis City and St. Louis County formed an agreement to work to end chronic homelessness in a decade. But a lack of services in surrounding communities makes that goal more difficult.
"This is a regional problem, requiring a regional solution, and so far we haven't seen any regional response whatsoever," said Seidhoff.